Consistent with its mission as a Catholic university, ACU is committed to supporting the dignity and well-being of all people in a manner that is sustainable and builds capacity at individual and/or organisational levels. There is a particular focus on working with communities who have experienced disadvantage and/or marginalisation.
Autistic people experience a number of barriers to inclusion and to reaching their potential; many of these barriers are social and environmental in nature.
Some of the most significant barriers experienced by autistic people occur in education and employment. A large majority of autistic children who are attending school (86%1) report ‘having difficulty’ at school, primarily difficulties with fitting in socially, learning and communication. Of those who complete secondary school, only 19% receive a post school qualification – compared to 59% of those with any form of disability1. Autistic people are less likely to be participating in the labour force2. In 2012, the labour force participation rate for autistics was 42%; compared to 53% of those with any form of disability and 83% of those without a disability.
As the understanding of autism has increased, the rate of diagnosis has also increased. In 2015 the ABS reported a prevalence rate of 1 in 1502, which is likely to be a considerable underestimation. Autism Spectrum Australia estimates it to be as high as 1 in 70 based on recent international data.
1. ABS (2012) 4428.0 - Autism in Australia, 2012 https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4428.0Main+Features12012?OpenDocument
2. ABS (2015). Autism in Australia. https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4430.0Main%20Features752015